UNICORN Investment Bank will sponsor the Bahrain round of the 120-kilometre Endurance Horseride Grand Prix, organisers the Bahrain Royal Endurance and Equestrian Federation (Breef) announced yesterday. The race, which will be the second of the three-leg event, is set to take place on Saturday at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir.
Breef president and Bahrain Royal Endurance Team captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa expressed his appreciation for Unicorn's support of the leg. Shaikh Nasser also said he was proud that Bahrain is hosting such a prestigious race, which has been approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).
Breef officials, under the guidance of Shaikh Nasser, yesterday continued to intensify their preparations for the ride, which follows the opener held last month at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi.
Registration for Saturday's race has also been opened by Breef, and some of the region's top riders - including those from Bahrain's Royal Team and leading participants from the UAE - are expected to take part.
Breef first vice-president and Al Khaldiya Stables captain Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa yesterday said that the Grand Prix has received great interest, and he welcomes the strong field set to compete in the kingdom's round. Shaikh Khalid added that Bahrain's riders are determined to defend their home field, and they are confident in their capability of taking first place as hosts.
Along with Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Khalid, those likely to saddle up for the Royal team are national talents Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa, Ghazi Al Dossary, and Abdulhaq Qadoori. They will receive stiff competition from the Emirati contingent, which features UAE vice-president, prime minister, and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as his son Sheikh Hamdan, who was considered as one of the leading title-contenders entering the Grand Prix.
Abdulla bin Hazim, also from the UAE, is also set to compete. He took the win in the first leg, and was joined on the podium by compatriots Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan who was the runner-up, and Ahmed bin Harmash who finished third.
Organisers have also revealed that coverage from a number of TV sports channels will be available in Bahrain. More details will be announced in the coming days.
Shaikh Nasser finished an impressive fourth riding his horse Omsura Nasrohn in Abu Dhabi, while Al Dossary also excelled after being classified eighth. Shaikh Khalid had to pull out of the race during its second stage, as his horse was exhausted.
The Bahrain round will be followed by the final leg in Dubai, to be held at the Dubai International Endurance City in Seih Assalem on a yet-to-be-scheduled date.
The Grand Prix will crown its overall champion after all three races have been completed, based on the total number of points accumulated from each leg.
Among a race's top finishers, the winner earns 100 points, while second gets 80, third 70, fourth 60, and fifth 50 points. Riders classified sixth through 10th will also come away with points.
Each participating rider must weigh at least 75kg without riding equipment, and must be registered with the FEI.